Climate change and flying

2016-05-08

in Politics, Psychology, Space and flight, The environment, Travel

The question of climate change and flying has arisen for me again, based on some questions asked by other people.

While it has been extensively discussed on this site, the relevant posts are scattered and not easy for someone new to find. To remedy that – and to create a central thread for any future discussion – I am listing them here in chronological order:

My last air travel experience was when I visited Vancouver from 22 December 2009 to 7 January 2010. Since then, the choice not to fly because of its climate change impact has affected every aspect of my life, from the aspiration to see other places, to professional development at work and in school, to relations with family and friends, to loss of relationships with friends and instuctors at Oxford and UBC, to limiting opportunities to participate in activist actions and training.

I think it’s important to draw attention to the highly destructive behaviours which people have normalized and come to perceive as inevitable. In the long run, if humanity is to bring climate change under control, we are all probably going to travel a lot less, a lot more slowly, and for much more important reasons.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan May 8, 2016 at 4:14 pm

A couple of other relevant items:

A conference that is being conducted digitally to avoid the need for participants to fly

Kicking the Habit: Air Travel in the Time of Climate Change – Air travel is neither just nor sustainable. So how can environmental justice activists make a global difference?

. May 8, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Emissions of CO2 from all transport sectors currently account for about 22% of all global emissions of CO2 from fossil fuel use (IPCC, 1996a). In 1990, aviation was responsible for about 12% of CO2 emissions from the transport sector (see Figure 8-2) (Faiz et al., 1996; IPCC, 1996b; OECD, 1997a,b). Regional variations also occur, as shown in Figure 8-3 for North America. Consequently, aviation is currently responsible for about 2% of total global emissions of CO2 from the use of fossil fuels (Sprinkle and Macleod, 1993; WMO, 1995; Gardner et al., 1996).

https://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/sres/aviation/126.htm

. May 8, 2016 at 4:19 pm

A round-trip flight between New York and Los Angeles on a typical commercial jet yields an estimated 715 kilos of CO2 per economy class passenger, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization. But due to the height at which planes fly, combined with the mixture of gases and particles they emit, conventional air travel has an impact on the global climate that’s approximately 2.7 times worse than its carbon emissions alone, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As a result, that roundtrip flight’s “climatic forcing” is really 1,917 kilos, or almost two tons, of emissions—more than nine times the annual emissions of an average denizen of Haiti (as per U.S. Department of Energy figures).

Only 2-3 percent of the world’s population flies internationally on an annual basis, but the climate impacts of air travel are felt by a much larger—and poorer—population. It is difficult to illustrate the meaning of such numbers in terms of who among the planet’s citizens pays the costs.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/kicking-the-habit-air-travel-in-a-time-of-climate-change

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